Cebu Pacific, Tigerair OK with phone use on planes

MANILA, Philippines – Budget carriers Cebu Pacific and Tigerair Philippines on Wednesday, January 1 expressed willingness to comply with the new policy of the air safety regulator allowing passengers to use phones and laptops to communicate and access the Internet during flights.

Meanwhile, sought for comment, Philippine Airlines said it had none, while AirAsia Zest has yet to reply as of posting time.

Cebu Pacific vice president for Coporate Affairs Jorenz Tañada said the low-cost airline will follow the new memorandum issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Tuesday, December 31.

“CEB (Cebu Pacific) has viewed Memorandum Circular No. 52-13 as uploaded in the CAAP website. CEB will revise its manuals and procedures in accordance with said CAAP memorandum,” he said in a text message.

The new policy – which takes effect 15 days after publication – allows passengers to use mobile phones, laptops and MP3 players on board flights. Old regulations allowed the use of electronic devices on planes without connectivity.

Phone calls however are only allowed when the aircraft’s doors are still open. Once doors close, only voice calls made via GSM OnBoard Aircraft devices will be allowed.

All “transmitting portable electronic devices” must be turned off when the plane is refuelling.

The use of MP3 players, which was already allowed under old regulations, should always be with earphones. Separate speakers are not allowed.

Tigerair Philippines President and Chief Executive Officer Olive Ramos welcomed the new policy but stressed there should be clear guidelines.

“Yes, I agree but [it] has to be regulated. Meaning, it should not be used during take off and landing. Also, the use of gadgets and phones should not create annoying sound, noise or distraction during flight,” Ramos said in a text message.